In environmental news: women led South African Anti-poaching unit nabs Champions of the earth award

Poaching has and is an abysmal culture of gross degradation to wildlife and in ripple, the environment.

In South Africa, rhinos are a species most vulnerable to poaching, with statistics determining 561 rhinos poached in 2015 so far, and an estimated 3 rhinos poached per day.  To help bring poaching to a zero, female led anti-poaching organization, The Black Mamba Anti-Poaching unit formed in 2013 and pledged to an end in poaching in their regions.

Their work has garnered them a Champions of Earth Award from the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP). According to UNEP, the Black Mamba Anti-Poaching Unit was recognized for their “rapid and impressive” impact they have made in reducing poaching in the Balule Private Game Reserve which is 400km2 .

From their inception, the unit has helped arrest six poachers, reduced snaring by 76% and additionally removed 1000 snares, and eliminated 5 poachers’ camps and 2 bush meat kitchens.  The area they protect is part of the Kruger National Park, South Africa’s oldest and largest park, houses rhinos, impalas, giraffes, crocodiles, lions, zebras, among many other wildlife species.

A member of the black mamba rangers, Leita Mkhabela expressed her bravery upon receiving the award “am not afraid, I know what I am doing and I know why I am doing it. If you see the poachers you tell them not to try, tell them we are here and it is they who are in danger.” She said. “Animals deserve to live; they have a right to live. Do your part. When demand ends, the killing will end. Say yes to life. Say no to illegal rhino horn and elephant ivory” she added.

UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner noted that community led initiatives are crucial to the to combatting the illegal wildlife trade and the Black Mambas highlight the importance of effective local knowledge and commitment.” “With every rhino saved, the Black Mambas demonstrate that action on a local level is critical to achieving global sustainability and equity,” he added.

Steiner further noted that although their work contributes mostly towards ecosystem preservation and stopping biodiversity loss, goal 15 of the sustainable development goals, it also shows the action driven solutions needed to meet all the SDG’s which global leaders will meet to adopt later in the month.